TORONTO — RHP Jamey Wright does not hide his desire to end a playoff drought that spans his entire 18-year career. But Wright came up short Saturday against the Blue Jays when he had a chance to move the Rays closer to a wild-card spot.
Wright replaced LHP Alex Torres in the fourth inning with two runners on and two outs in a one-run game. He walked his first batter then allowed a two-run single to Adam Lind. Wright then allowed a two-run homer to Ryan Goins in the fifth inning as the Jays pulled away for a 7-2 victory.
“That’s on me,” Wright said. “That’s my loss. That’s my fault (Saturday).”
Wright had nine straight scoreless outings before Saturday’s game. He hadn’t walked a batter in his past 10. But he walked his first batter Saturday.
“I was terrible from pitch one,” Wright said.
Torres had replaced RHP Chris Archer in the third inning and pitched out of a jam. Torres allowed a run on two hits in the fourth inning when manager Joe Maddon called for Wright to face 3B Brett Lawrie.
“This guy’s a big reason why were in this position,” Maddon said. “He’s pitching so well. He had a tough day, and that happens, but it was a really good spot for him.”
Maddon had hoped to use Wright to get six or seven outs. But Maddon pulled Wright with one out in the fifth inning.
“I’ve done it plenty of times when I’ve gone in there and got three outs on eight pitches,” Wright said. “(Saturday) was just a battle. I didn’t help our cause too much.”
Short day for Archer
Maddon wanted Archer to pitch into the sixth inning Saturday, hopefully with the lead. But Maddon pulled Archer with two outs in the third inning, one batter after the Jays tied the score at 1.
“I just thought Archie was struggling a bit,” Maddon said. “I didn’t see a real comfortable moment there and he had all those lefties coming up, and I liked Alex there.”
Archer allowed five hits and a run in his 2ß innings, which was his shortest non-injury related outing of the season. He threw 64 pitches.
He said he didn’t understand why he was pulled so early in the game.
“I felt like I went deep into some counts early in the game that got my pitch count up, but I didn’t feel like my back was against the wall or anything. I did the best I could with the amount of time I was out there,” Archer said.” I’m OK with it, with my outing. It (stinks) that we didn’t win and I couldn’t do more to help.”
The Indians used a nine-game winning streak to take over the wild-card lead Saturday. The Rangers caught the Rays by winning their past six.
“It’s been really fascinating that nobody wants to give in,” Maddon said of the race before the Rays lost their second straight to the Jays.
The Indians finished the season with 10 games against the Astros, White Sox and Twins. They went 6-1 this season against the Astros, 17-2 against the White Sox and are 12-6 against the Twins with one game to play.
The Rangers closed with three games against the Astros and four against the Angels. They were 17-2 for the season against the Astros are 14-4 going into today’s game against the Angels.
With LHP Matt Moore starting today, LHP David Price is set to pitch the tiebreaker or the wild-card game should the Rays extend the season. “I think it sets up well for us,” 3B Evan Longoria said. ... CF Desmond Jennings (hamstring) had a pinch-hit at-bat Saturday, but Maddon said Jennings will not be in today’s lineup. ... SS Yunel Escobar returned to the lineup Saturday. ... Maddon said his bullpen is rested enough for today. ... 2B Ben Zobrist had his 49th multi-hit game of the season Saturday. He has hit safely in six straight games and eight of his past nine. ... DH Delmon Young had his six-game hitting streak snapped. ... LHP Cesar Ramos pitched three perfect innings and struck out five of the nine batters he faced. ... Any tiebreaker games are an extension of the regular season, so teams will have their expanded rosters.